We care about keeping all of your pets as healthy and happy as they can be for as long as they share their lives with you. Wellness care means a lot more than “shots”- our exams and preventative care are comprehensive and our goal is to treat the whole pet.
Listening to your pet’s story
Every exam starts with a history, and every history tells a story. Is your cat a homebody or an active outdoor hunter? Is your dog a competitive athlete or your neighborhood walking partner? No matter what you and your pet do together, we are here to listen and to make sure your pet is as healthy as he can be for your life together. We are happy to do our best to answer any questions you have on nutrition, behavior, or anything else you need to know to keep your pet in top shape!
The Annual Exam
The annual exam is the most important part of a veterinarian’s relationship with you and your pet. It lets us see how your pet looks when they are healthy and happy, and that’s very important for us to know since many animals will mask signs of illness until they are very sick. Subtle symptoms such as weight gain or loss, haircoat changes, or even alterations in personality can be caught much earlier in pets that we see regularly and are familiar with, and early diagnosis and intervention often means a healthier pet long term.
The annual exam is also your time to ask us questions- about behavior, nutrition, that weird mass that hasn’t changed but that’s been bothering you for a few months, or anything that you’ve been wondering about. We welcome any and all questions!
Even though comprehensive wellness care is more than just shots, there are several major infectious diseases in our area and throughout the country that we want to prevent our pets from. We tailor our overall vaccine protocols to meet the needs of each pet- please see the FAQ for more detailed information on vaccine protocols (LINK).
There are a surprising… perhaps even alarming… number of parasites in our region that can infect our pets and make them sick!
• External parasites- Fleas and Ticks and Biting Things
The Northeast is a hotbed of tick activity and the greater Capital District is no exception. We have four species of tick locally (American dog tick, brown dog tick, deer tick, and Lone Star tick), all of which can transmit serious diseases to animals and humans. Ticks are responsible for the transmission of Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis, Ehrlichiosis, and likely other diseases that we are still learning to recognize.
Fleas do not transmit as many diseases as as ticks, but they are a terrible, itchy nuisance to pets and their owners! Many pets are allergic to flea bites in addition to the “normal” level of itching that their bites produce, leading to serious quality of life problems if they are not addressed. Fleas will also bite people.
Certain times of year also bring out other biting insects, such as black flies and mosquitoes, that your pet may be exposed to if they spend time outside.
External parasites are identified on physical exam, though if a patient has a tick borne disease, blood tests may be needed to identify these.
• Gastrointestinal parasites- Hooks, Rounds and Whips, Oh My!
The environment around us outside is full of bugs we can’t see that would love to share our pets with us… and maybe snack on us too! Roundworms, hookworms and whipworms are abundant all over the world, and any pet that hunts wild rodents (mice, squirrels, chipmunks etc) or picks things up off the ground with their mouth can be exposed to the eggs of these parasites and become infected. Wild animals are often the carrier species of these parasites, and there is no reliable way to avoid them. Many parasites in these families are transmissible to people, and roundworms in particular are a concern with young children- the parasites can cause a serious eye infection that resembles a tumor. Hookworms and whipworms can cause severe blood loss in their hosts and make them very ill.
Gastrointestinal parasites can be screened for with annual fecal exams.
This parasite is unique to dogs, but it is deadly if they are infected. Heartworm larvae are transmitted through mosquito bites, and the adult worms clog blood vessels around the heart and lungs, leading to heart failure and death. The only positive about heartworm disease is that it’s easy to prevent! See the FAQ for more information (LINK)
Heartworm disease is best treated before it causes symptoms, and we test for it with a blood test every year.
The (only!) great thing about parasites is that we live in a time when many of their life cycles are very well understood, and we have excellent tools to fight them.
For DOGS, we recommend…
– An annual heartworm test
– An annual fecal exam
– Monthly heartworm preventative YEAR ROUND
– Flea and tick preventatives as needed (year round in many cases)
For CATS, we recommend…
– An annual fecal exam
– Flea and tick preventatives as needed (different needs for indoor vs. outdoor cats)